Mikhail Gorbachev Essay, Research Paper
Mikhail Gorbachev is a man who has made a great impact on our world. This Soviet leader set into action some changes that led to the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the rise of democracy in Europe (Franklin Watts, 1990).
Gorbachev was born in a time when a government campaign to end private farming brought much terror and death to the countryside of the Soviet Union. As a child he went through the horrors of Soviet life that dictator Joseph Stalin caused. One- third of the residents in Mikhail?s birth village, Privolnoye, died during a famine in the early 1930s, caused bye the rapid collectivization of Soviet agriculture (Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich, ONL). Mikhail?s grandfather was randomly arrested by Stalin?s secret police, but was fortunate enough to be released after a year and a half (Franklin Watts, 1990).
Despite all of the problems in the Soviet system at the time, Gorbachev still kept faith in the system, even as a child. In 1946, Mikhail joined the Komsomol, a Communist Youth League (Gorbachev, Mikhail ? Britannica.com, ONL). After joining, he worked hard, gave a great deal of time, and established himself as an enthusiastic supporter of the Communist Party. In 1952, to further his education in politics, he entered the law school of Moscow State University and became a member of the Communist Party (Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich, ONL).
In 1951, Gorbachev met Raisa Titorenko, a philosophy student from Siberia. They decided to get married in 1954. And at the wedding, as with most Russian weddings, most of the guests became drunk. But not Gorbachev, he remained quite sober, which was a foreshadow of his campaign later against Russia?s alcohol abuse (Franklin Watts, 1990).
Gorbachev quickly worked his way through the ranks and finally became a full member of the Politburo, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union?s (CPSU) top policy-making body. The general secretary of the Politburo was the leader of the country. After the general secretary of the Politburo, Yuri Andropov, died in 1984, Konstantin Cherenko replaced him as Soviet leader. But he too died a little more than a year after taking office, and Gorbachev was appointed as the new leader of the Soviet Union on March 11, 1985 (Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich, ONL).
From the start, Gorbachev strove for significant reforms so that the Soviet system could work efficiently. He proposed changes to move from the Communist system to a system with less government control. This policy is known as perestroika (restructuring) (Profile: Mikhail Gorbachev, ONL). He also put into effect a new policy of glasnost (openness) where many freedoms were granted to citizens (Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich, ONL)
Along with changes in key political positions, Gorbachev also pursued a crackdown on incompetence within the Communist Party organization. He announced a campaign against alcohol consumption. Gorbachev closed two-thirds of the liquor stores down and increased the fine for public drunkenness by ten times (Franklin Watts, 1990).
Gorbachev was the single most important initiator of a series of events in 1990 that led to the end of the Cold War. He sought every opportunity to voice his support for reformist communities. By the summer of 1990, Gorbachev agreed to the reunification of East with West Germany. In the same year, Gorbachev received the Nobel Prize for Peace for his achievements in these international relations (Gorbachev, Mikhail ? Britannica.com).
Gorbachev?s policies backfired though. His reforms went too far for some elements in the Soviet Communist Party, and not for enough for other elements. By late 1990, Gorbachev faced competing pressures from the 15 republics that made up the USSR. A weakening Soviet economy and a growing instability of politics led to the downfall of the USSR. On August 24, 1991, Gorbachev resigned as general secretary of the Communist Party. And, by October, all of the Soviet republics except Russia and Kazakhstan had declared their independence from the USSR (Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich, ONL).
Though Gorbachev set to strengthen the Soviet system, his efforts ended up destroying it. But he did have a crucial part in world affairs. Making a huge contribution to the end of the Cold War, and to other peace making policies, Mikhail Gorbachev has had a great impact on the world we know today.
?Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich,? MicrosoftO EncartaO Online Encyclopedia 2000 http://encarta.msn.com O 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation.
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?Gorbachev, Mikhail ? Britannica.com,? Encyclopedia Britannica Online http://www.britannica.com 1999-2000 Britannica.com Inc.
?CNN Cold War ? Profile: Mikhail Gorbachev,? http://www.cnn.com/SPEC IALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/gorbachev/index.ht